Status Report on Research on the Outcomes of Welfare Reform, 2001. Other Projects


National Academy of Sciences Panel Study on Welfare Outcomes (1998, 1999 and 2000)

ASPE continues its support of the National Academy of Sciences' Panel on Data and Methods for Measuring the Effects of Changes in Social Welfare Programs. The purpose of convening this NAS Panel was to evaluate the design of current, proposed and future studies of the effects of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, and to provide the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with unbiased scientific recommendations for studying the outcomes of recent changes in the welfare system. The panel's conclusions and recommendations on research questions and populations of interest, evaluation methods and issues, and data needs and issues were presented in its report, Evaluating Welfare Reform in an Era of Transition, and are discussed in Chapter II. The published Final Report will be disseminated in Summer 2001.

Throughout the course of this study, the Academy has conducted workshops and seminars focused on methodological issues associated with the study of welfare outcomes. Papers presented and discussed at the Workshop on Data Collection for Low-Income and Welfare Populations will be published in a companion volume, Data Collection and Research Issues for Studies of Welfare Populations, and are scheduled to be released in September 2001. These papers by welfare outcomes research experts discuss the current state of knowledge for surveying low-income populations; preparation and use of and access to welfare program-relevant administrative data systems; and measuring important outcomes for welfare studies.

Estimated Completion Date: September 2001

Devolution and Urban Change (2000)

This five-year project (which is primarily foundation-funded) is a multi-disciplinary study by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) of the implementation and impacts of welfare reform and welfare-to-work programs on low-income individuals, families and communities in four large urban areas: Cleveland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Miami. Other Federal partners include HHS' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the Economic Research Service at USDA. The project brings together data from an unusually wide array of sources: longitudinal administrative data for all families receiving AFDC/TANF or Food Stamps dating back to 1992, survey data, an implementation study, neighborhood indicators, an institutional study focusing on local service providers, and an ethnographic study of a limited number of families.

Accomplishments to date: (These reports are available at <>)

The Project on Devolution and Urban Change: Social Service Organizations and Welfare Reform, February 2001.

The Project on Devolution and Urban Change: Post-TANF Food Stamp and Medicaid Benefits: Factors That Aid or Impede Their Receipt, January 2001.

Assessing the Impact of Welfare Reform on Urban Communities: The Urban Change Project and Methodological Considerations, November 2000.

The Project on Devolution and Urban Change: Food Security and Hunger in Poor, Mother-Headed Families in Four U.S. Cities, May 2000.

Big Cities and Welfare Reform: Early Implementation and Ethnographic Findings from the Project on Devolution and Urban Change, June 1999.

Estimated Completion Date: September 2002

Continuation of New Jersey Welfare/Substance Abuse Evaluation (1998 and 2000)

In FY 1998 we began funding, in partnership with ACF, a three year grant to support the evaluation of a New Jersey initiative which aims to improve employment and family outcomes for TANF recipients with substance abuse problems through substance abuse treatment, intensive case management and supportive services. This evaluation will provide important information about the effectiveness of a type of intervention several states are experimenting with to move substance abusing welfare clients toward self-sufficiency. The intervention New Jersey is implementing includes screening of welfare recipients for substance abuse problems, treatment referral mechanisms with enhanced case management, and substance abuse treatment coordinated with employment and training or vocational services. The evaluation, using a random assignment model, compares two models for providing such services, looking at outcomes in several domains including employment and family self-sufficiency, substance use and associated behaviors, child development and family functioning, and child welfare involvement. The intervention being evaluated is intended to improve the post-welfare prospects of TANF recipients with substance abuse problems. The evaluation is being conducted in two New Jersey counties (Essex and Atlantic).

The grantee, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, will produce three products resulting from the evaluation which are intended for use by ACF and the state to disseminate information about the project. These include: (1) a descriptive profile of the population served by New Jersey's welfare-to-work program, including how many have substance use disorders as well as other barriers to self-sufficiency; (2) an implementation report describing the difficulties encountered and lessons learned about implementing these services, as well as issues to be considered in establishing substance abuse interventions in welfare contexts; and (3) an outcomes report describing outcomes for participants and controls 12 months post-treatment. ASPEand ACF have provided support for this project. Other aspects of the evaluation are being funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Department's National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Estimated Completion Date: Random assignment of clients to the intervention models began in mid-1999. Research Notes on the effectiveness of two approaches to screening and assessment of substance abuse in welfare settings, and on the initial rates of treatment engagement and retention for program participants versus the control group were published in January 2001. We expect the baseline characteristics report in Summer 2001, a three-month outcomes report in Fall 2001, the implementation analysis report in Winter 2002, and a 15-month outcomes report in Summer 2002.

Supporting Families After Welfare Reform: Access to Medicaid, S-CHIP and Food Stamps (1999)

ASPE, along with the Administration for Children and Families, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and USDA, contributed funding to a major $5.9 million initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to provide technical assistance and grants to states and large counties to improve their enrollment and redetermination processes for Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and Food Stamps. Under the Supporting Families program, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will provide funding for assistance to states or counties to work on Medicaid and SCHIP, while federal funding will provide assistance to work on Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SCHIP. The expert technical assistance may take the form of analysis of performance data, identification of the root causes of problems in their enrollment processes, and/or development of specific implementation plans to solve the problems and increase the participation rates in Medicaid, SCHIP, and Food Stamps. Information on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's overall initiative to solve problems in eligibility processes that make it difficult for low-income families to access and retain Medicaid, SCHIP or Food Stamps — particularly families moving from welfare to work — can be found under "Supporting Families after Welfare Reform" at <>.

Federal funding supported a literature review and synthesis on the recent drop in participation in the Medicaid and Food Stamp programs, including the reasons underlying the changes in participation, and the potential strategies for increasing participation among eligible families. The report, Access to and Participation in Medicaid and the Food Stamp Program - A Review of the Recent Literature, was released in March 2000, and can be found at <>. It includes findings from government- and privately-sponsored research projects, studies of participation in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) and Medicaid at the national and state level, studies of low-income families who have left welfare, reviews of research, and ongoing analysis and data collection efforts. Federal funding is also supporting reviews of promising practices sites and a report describing the practices that appear to enhance or facilitate participation in the Medicaid/SCHIP and Food Stamp programs by former TANF and low-income families. Some promising practices site visits have been completed; the remainder should be completed by Summer 2001. Visits to program improvement sites, as part of the larger project, should also be completed by Summer 2001. The final reports will synthesize findings across all promising practices and program improvement sites.

Estimated Completion Date: December 2001

Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A. FANS) (1999)

The L.A. FANS is a four-year longitudinal study by RAND of children, their families, and their neighborhoods in Los Angeles. While designed to answer broader research questions about the effects of neighborhoods on children, the study also is examining the effects of welfare reform at the neighborhood level. The study design includes both extensive household surveys and collection of detailed longitudinal information on neighborhoods through interviews with families, key informants, and service providers, on-site observation, and extensive administrative data. ASPE is providing support to enhance information about health insurance coverage and health status among children and families. For more information, see The Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey on RAND's website at <>.

Estimated Completion Date: 2003